A week after the recent 53rd Annual Grammy Awards, which saw Best New Artist going to Jazz singer Esperanza Spalding and Album of the Year honors going to Arcade Fire, music executive and Hip-Hop brand manager Steve Stoute took his concerns to Sunday’s New York Times Style Section, openly criticize the awards show in a full-page ad. Since the show, many people have questioned NARAS about the unexpected wins and now Stoute says the foundation has lost touch with contemporary popular culture in this open letter:
“Over the course of my 20-year history as an executive in the music business and as the owner of a firm that specializes in in-culture advertising, I have come to the conclusion that the Grammy Awards have clearly lost touch with contemporary popular culture,” he began his open letter. “The awards show has become a series of hypocrisies and contradictions, leaving me to question why any contemporary popular artist would even participate.”
“We must acknowledge the massive cultural impact of Eminem and Kanye West and how their music is shaping, influencing and defining the voice of a generation,” he went on before talking about the loss of Justin Bieber in Best New Artist. “How is it that Justin Bieber, an artist that defines what it means to be a modern artist, did not win Best New Artist?”
“Interesting that the Grammys understands cultural relevance when it comes to using Eminem’s, Kanye West’s or Justin Bieber’s name in the [performance] billing [but not when handing out trophies]. … Does the Grammys intentionally use artists for their celebrity, popularity and cultural appeal when they already know the winners and then program a show against this expectation?”
Steve pointed out some suspicious coincidences that made him think about the shady arrangement. “As the show was coming to a close and just prior to presenting the award for Album of the Year, Arcade Fire performed ‘Month of May’ only to, surprise, win the category and, in a moment of sheer coincidence, happened to be prepared to perform ‘Ready to Start’,” he explained.
“The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences hides behind the ‘peer’ voting system to escape culpability for not even rethinking this approach,” he further slams the prize-giving event which is dubbed the biggest music celebration of the year. “You are being called to task at this very moment, NARAS.”
What do you think about Stouteâs letter?